Lionsgate buys Mandate in $56.3 mil deal

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Lionsgate acquired Mandate Pictures on Monday for $56.3 million in cash and stock.

The deal reunites Vancouver-based Lionsgate with Mandate's Joe Drake, who stepped down six years ago as head of international distribution to launch the indie production and distribution company with partners Nathan Kahane and Brian Goldsmith.

Drake is returning to the fold as co-COO and president of Lionsgate's motion picture group, overseeing theatrical production, distribution, marketing, acquisition and international theatrical operations. He also will continue as CEO of the Beverly Hills-based Mandate.

Lionsgate will pay $44.3 million in cash and $12 million in stock to be released over 18 months. It also will take on about $6.6 million in debt.

The acquisition reflects continuing growth at Lionsgate as it moves further into international distribution, Lionsgate co-chairman and CEO Jon Feltheimer said. He added that it will allow for a more streamlined realignment of the Lionsgate motion picture team, with Lionsgate theatrical films president Tom Ortenberg; production president Michael Paseornek; acquisitions, TV and co-productions president Peter Block; and international sales president Stephanie Denton all reporting to Drake.

"It frees me up to pursue more growth opportunities," Feltheimer said.

In addition to producing movies, Mandate has handled international sales and distribution for its own projects as well as for such films from outside production companies as the upcoming "Because I Said So," "White Jazz" and "Sleuth."

"We've always sold our own titles internationally, but this means we can develop a true third-party sales business," Feltheimer said. "It's a great opportunity for us."

Recent Mandate credits include the Will Ferrell starrer "Stranger Than Fiction" and Zach Helm's upcoming "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium," starring Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman.

Another Mandate title, Jason Reitman's "Juno," starring Ellen Page and Michael Cera, launched during the weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Through Ghost House Pictures, Mandate's joint venture with Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, the company has had a hand in producing such No. 1 boxoffice openers as "The Grudge," "Boogeyman," "The Grudge 2" and "The Messengers." In October, Sony Pictures will release Ghost House's next horror film, "30 Days of Night."

Drake will be headquartered in Lionsgate's Santa Monica offices, but Mandate, under newly named president Kahane, will continue to operate out of its Beverly Hills offices as an autonomous business unit with its own distribution relationships with other studios.

"We look at them as another profit center for us, and their first port of call will be the customers they've been servicing," Feltheimer said.

The deal has been in the works for several months as details of its structure were hammered out.

"No company is as well positioned for growth in the entertainment space as Lionsgate, and I'm excited by the opportunity to help further shape the vision Jon and his team are building," Drake said.

Etan Vlessing reported from Toronto. Gregg Kilday reported from Los Angeles.
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